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Understanding French particularities

The bank
Entrusting your money to professionals
Today banks are essential for daily life - to deposit money, make payments, save and borrow.
There are over 430 banks and 39 000 branches in France
The French banking system is divided into several distinct families, all under the State's supervision :
  • Retail banks, such as Société Générale, as well as mutual and cooperative banks, wich can perform all banking operations for businesses and individuals alike, whatever their nationality.
  • Financial companies which finance projects using their own resources or by calling upon the monetary or financial market. They cannot receive short-term deposits from the public.
  • Specialised financial institutions, upon which the French State confers a permanent public interest mission, such as financing property or helping businesses. 
Basic banking services
Every banking establishment offers at least the following services:
  • opening, holding and closing a current account,
  • deposits and withdrawals, cashing cheques and bank transfers,
  • remote payments: standing orders, transfers, inter-bank payment security certificates,
  • supplying a payment card (who use must be authorised by the bank),
  • supplying bank cheques,
  • supplying bank ID slips (called RIB), often needed for administrative purposes,
  • sending out monthly statements, summarising all the operations carried out on the account,
  • a means of consulting an account remotely.
Every person over the age of 18 has the right to open a bank account in France, whatever his/her situation. However, a bank has no obligation to open an account for all clients requesting it. Should the bank refuse, the client can turn to the Banque de France, which will designate a bank which cannot refuse to open the account. In all cases, the future client must submit some documents as proof of ID and home address.
© All Contents, Laurence de PERCIN, janvier 2014.
Groupe Société Générale